Since time immemorial, humans have worn jewelry not just for aesthetic purposes, but also as a a way to express themselves. These beautiful body ornaments allowed wearers to signify wealth, societal status, rank, and even affiliation. To some groups, even identity is, to a certain extent, anchored to unique pieces of jewelry that they have been known to wear.
These days, although jewelry is mostly worn for aesthetic purposes, it can still can tell a lot about the person wearing them.
Pinoy brand Nawa aims to not just to create beautiful jewelry – they create jewelry that is truly Filipino. The local brand produces beautiful bangles by T’Boli brass makers with the end goal of exposing “T’Boli weavers and brass makers’ eye for intricate detail to a larger audience.”
Each of these beautiful bands is made by hand so every single one is unique. The bracelets are delicately simple with each featuring small, intricate markings. Nawa transports them all the way from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. These bangles are not only pretty, they also tell a story.
Nawa is not your usual business venture.
The brand is the brainchild of long-time friends Fatima Potenciano and Jopie Sanchez. It all started when Fatima, who had a fondness for unique handmade accessories and tribal jewelry, complained to Jopie about how she could not find a place which sells brass bangles in Manila. Coincidentally, Jopie had done work in the movie ‘K’Na The Dreamweaver’ shot in South Cotabato and knew people from the T’Boli community who could make these bangles.
The two decided to sell the bangles in Manila and return a percentage of the profit to the Lake Sebu School of Living Tradition, a non-profit organization that aims to preserve the T’Boli people’s traditional way of life.
In T’Boli culture, Nawa is a word that can mean several things. To speak of one’s “Nawa” is to speak of their character, and emotions. Nawa can also mean “breath,” and it seemed fitting to pay tribute to the T’Boli culture by breathing new life into their craft. In Tagalog, Nawa is a word that means “Amen,” or “Let it be.”
The bracelets come in sets of 10 and are available in two sizes, 6.5 and 7.5. You may also order then per piece.
The beautiful bangles caught my eye immediately. They were unique, classy and perfect for any occasion. Of course, there was extra pride in me when I wear these babies out knowing that these pretty things are wholly Pinoy made.
Nawa is not just another local jewelry brand – it’s an ode to Philippine history, culture, and identity. It is proof that we can inculcate these elements into the modern Pinay identity.